Seasons of Change

I was in a luscious yin class* on Sunday – zoning into the ebb and flow of my breath and allowing my body just to be present when the teacher said this ‘just like the seasons change so do we’

Boom!…I really needed to hear this and be reminded of this, sometimes you just need that one thing said in a class to resonate with you and your whole perspective can change again. For the better!

Why do we think it’s not ok to not be ok? Or is that just me? I have been feeling quite low recently, mentally and physically, and I’ve been well and truly beating myself up about it…I should be grateful for what I’ve got (I am btw) and not be winging or feeling sorry for myself. I should look, as I teach, to the positives of the situation. But I’ve struggled. While meditation or crystals and my personal practice has helped temporarily I’ve slumped again when life stuff takes over. And then started to berate myself for it all over again, this constant loop of feeling low, then feeling annoyed at myself for feeling low….round and round it goes.

Until that comment, just a simple sentence that reminded me, we are not all firing on all cylinders all the time, seasons change, and so do you – I’m naturally a much happier person when the sun shines, so I suppose Summer is my season, my YANG time – time to be energetic and sociable and high, and I hate being cold so Winter is my YIN time, time to withdraw a little and become more introspective. The transitional periods of Spring and Autumn can bring the change with their equinox’s, preparing us for the next big shift. So use these equinox shifts and transitional times to go with the flow, accepting that the flow of life will have ups, downs, highs, lows and how you deal with it is the key to your happiness.

The same mindset can be applied to the physical, in the summer my body feels warm and pliable and I find the asana practice relatively ‘easy’ as the days get colder my body reacts with tension and stiffness that is a little harder to warm up and work with – accepting this and working with it is the key to not feeling bad about it.

So I’ve decided I’m going through a seasonal change, and that’s made me feel so much better. I can stop telling myself off for being grumpy, just accept the bumpy road for now and just accept that this feeling, along with everything else, is impermanent – so just ride with it!

I try to teach positivity and gratefulness in my classes, also accepting where you are (in the practice) but somewhere along the line I forgot to remind myself of this, and that its ok to have a little blip, to not feel like a whirling ball of positive energy, to to just accept where you are in the season of your life.

This week in my vinyasa and restorative classes I will be focusing on rooting and grounding, with of course, a sense of acceptance.

namaste

*thanks to Victoria Rose at Cheltenham Yoga and Pilates for a lovely Yin Class

 

How yoga changed my life perspective….

Boom! it’s a biggie, after a 5 month hiatus I thought a blog post was long overdue, and what better way to come back to the blog than with a very personal and bold statement!

People always ask me ‘so what is it with Yoga??’ oh man, if you need to ask then you need to get on the mat….yoga is 99% practice, 1 % theory (quote from Sri.K Pattabi Jois)

 

 

It’s an experiential thing, and to start, we start with the asana, the physical practice…of course. But then, once you sweated and huffed (yes Monday night crew I’m talking about you!!!) your way through the asana, you take a well deserved shavasana, and hopefully, after this (if I’ve done my job well) you experience a moment or moments of calm clarity…that my dear reader, is YOGA.

After you experience this, you may keep coming back to an asana practice, finding that the sitting and being present at the end of class is the thing that is really helping you mentally. I believe this is the thing that people return to class for, even if they don’t realise this to start with. Of course we have physical benefits from a regular asana practice, but you could get such results in any form of exercise, it’s the brain that is the big winner in yoga.

This brings me to my main point of today’s rambling, how yoga has changed my perspective, how, after many years of practice I believe yoga has helped me become a more positive person. Positive in my outlook to life and myself. And this is why I often state ‘yoga changed my life’

I wasn’t always negative, or riddled with self-hatred, but as we all know life throws us curve balls and they have an impact on how we view ourselves and the world…and for a while, I was stuck in a rut of self loathing and negative thoughts, I won’t go into detail here on why I had such a hard few years, and almost it is a moot point, as I’m trying to explain how yoga has helped me, and can help YOU regardless of the reason you might not be floating on a wave of positive thoughts right now.

Yoga, and of course meditation, helps put things in perspective. Being present is a wonderful tool. Accepting where you are right here, right now is the greatest gift I’ve learnt.

I’ve learnt to ACCEPT myself. And in turn, change my whole life perspective….this ability to see things how they really are (Vipassana) is a wonderful trait in humans, and it could literally change the world. Sadly it’s not that easy. So, if you can’t change the world, change yourself.

Start by accepting what you cannot change, and changing what you can. You can improve your mental and physical health by improving your diet (eat more veg! eat less animal products, cut out all processed foods and SUGAR) and starting an exercise regime (it doesn’t have to be yoga) you can start a simple meditation practice – simple guide here

You can edit out things and people from your life ‘who no longer serve you’ change your job, move, all these practical things can help, but for the things you can’t change you need to change your perspective…

I try to start each day with a yoga practice, followed by some mediation and some positive ‘affirmations’ being grateful for at least two things each morning, even so simple as ‘I am still alive’ ‘I am loved’ ‘I have a roof over my head’ etc…and every time you have negative thoughts, try to spin it so that you find some kind of positive in every situation.

You see dwelling in negativity is a selfish way to live…oh poor you, poor me, I want, I need, I don’t look like this, I don’t have this…it’s all so egotistical and self-absorbed.

Start becoming grateful for what you DO have – even if it’s as simple as breath, you are breathing, rejoice in that!

I promise you, that if you try to live this way and change your perspective, your life will feel better, you will FEEL richer, more fulfilled and content.

Of course, it’s always a work in progress, sometimes I get the blues, but I snap out of it pretty quickly nowadays…remember as Pattabi also wisely said…Practice, and ALL is coming

love and light x

Love the skin you’re in

January, the month of setting intentions….it’s boom time for the fitness industry,as everyone starts their year with the very best of intentions. But can you maintain it? Can you keep the motivation going into February, March, the rest of 2018, or for the rest of your life?

I’m not sure what the actual percentage might be but I’m going to hazard a guess that approx 70-75% of people do not stick to their new diet and exercise regime past March. But what do you think the reason for that is??? Because you’ve looked at the front of a magazine/Instagram post/sponsored Facebook post and seen an industry professional, fitness ‘athlete’ and you’ve thought ‘I’ve got to look like that’ and you are only faced with disappointment and failure when you don’t.

Which brings me back to the title of the post –

LOVE THE SKIN YOUR IN…

You are good enough right now* so start where you are and with the first rule of change – ACCEPTANCE

Don’t make an intention, or resolution to change your physical appearance when the change only happens within. Of course, I’m not saying diet and exercise don’t work, they can be very achievable for a short period of time, what I’m talking about is a long-term, permanent change.

If you don’t make the aesthetic the goal, then you can start to learn to accept and work with what you’ve got. This is a message I try to indoctrinate into all my yoga classes….being present in the moment, not comparing, accepting where you are RIGHT NOW. Because nothing is permanent…everything changes.

I can honestly tell you this is the best change in I ever made in my life, is to just accept myself for who I am.

And guess what? yes, I practice Yoga 6 days a week, I keep a 95% healthy diet (come on, let’s be real I like wine and gin and beer!) and because I do all these things I am in pretty good physical shape –  but I wake up every morning and I tell myself this is it, this is you, this is who you are right now, today, love it!

I honestly believe this is the ONLY resolution you need ever make to live a full and happy life.

You know, whenever I do get down, and I do get down, I can 100% guarantee it’s because I’ve felt I should be doing more than I am doing in that moment – I should be thinner, fitter, stronger, be able to get my leg behind my head, have a boyfriend, have more money, have a better place to live, be travelling again, have my own business….comparing and judging and critically assaulting my life!!!

And then I sit, meditate for a few minutes on the present and I feel calm and grounded again, and I can move on with my day. I have the ability to ping back fairly quickly from these downward spirals as I can accept them, and then myself, and move on.

So, you see, and I can testify to this whole heartedly, the key to making a change is to accept where you are right now, and

LOVE THE SKIN YOUR IN 

 

 

*unless of course you have been told by a medical professional to start to urgently exercise and/or change your diet, in which case please do so, but not before you accept your starting point, each day.

Asteya – giving, not taking

Asteya is our third Yama, this literally means ‘non-stealing; and again it can be taken literally, of course we should not steal – it’s bad.
But looking a little deeper into the meaning of the Yama, as by now you hopefully realise we must do, what do we ‘steal’ that is not ours to take in abstract form?
Other people’s attention/time/energies?

Resources from the earth?

Someone else’s creative ideas?
The sutras explain this yama as not to be literally stealing but that when Asteya (non stealing) is established then all treasures will come to the yogi, or when the heart is pure, all means will come.

 

Shiva, meditation, intentions, India, Mysore, Chamundi Hill

 

On researching this post I began to understand this moral restraint more and more. We are constantly taking, taking the air we breath, the food and water we eat and drink to survive, space, time and energy we take it all. So maybe this yama is teaching us, yes take these things to survive, but GIVE BACK what and when you can.

Recycle, buy all products with a conscience (oragnic, sustainable, local), grow something, plant a tree!

LISTEN when others are talking – PAY IT FORWARD.

Do something for someone else, everyday if you can, even if it’s just offering to make someone else a drink at work, smile back at the person in the shop, say thank you – spare some time for others, etc etc I think you get it – life is not just a one way street we drive straight ahead on and to hell with the others on it, be considerate to yourself, others and of course the planet that provides us with so much free resources.

On the mat you should practice asteya, I’ll use the quote that I use in my classes and I have previously written about here – don’t steal, or covet, what others have, just be happy with where you are at, and what you have got, not just on the mat actually but in life in general – comparison IS the thief of joy!

 

 

Also, and you will get bored with me saying this on here – GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! In this busy, crazy, online world you need to stop stealing your own time and give yourself a break! Detach from your social media (I promise you it will still be there when you return) turn off the TV (how often do you just have it on like background noise) make yourself a cuppa and just sit for a while like in the olden days when they didn’t have TV or iphones.

In this way the sutras say ‘All treasures will come to you’. Stop taking so much, start giving back. How pleasant the world would be if we all did just that.

 

Yoga Selfies – yay or nay?

yoga, selfies, inspiration, meditation, ashtanga, instagram, yoga body, yoga explotation

I was reading earlier on another blog how the author had started a little movement called #realpeopleofashtanga – it was post about how social media can make yoga (she writes specifically about Ashtanga Yoga) seem like it’s just for very slim, very tall, and VERY flexible people. In other words, fitness models.

Which is makes me sad. Because the meaning of Yoga – is union, it’s coming together as a tribe, and it’s coming together with yourself, and accepting yourself for what you are. I’m wondering how you feel about this? Does seeing pictures of model-turned yogi in advanced asana deter you from starting your yoga journey or make you feel inadequate in your own ability as a yogi?

For me I see both sides of the argument. Social media is an international platform to showcase your business, and many of us are in the business of self promotion. I know that some of my most liked Instagram posts are yoga selfies. I totally respect the dedication to the practice to be able to achieve those advanced asana (poses) But I also have deleted a few of the accounts I used to follow as I did start to feel that I was not good enough in comparison to them.

Of course, living by the motto ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ (more on this here) is sometimes easier said than done. I know that Kino McGregor gets tons of negativity from the Ashtanga world, but if you bother to read her comment she really is a truly devout Ashtangi, has studied for many years and dedicated her life to her practice. I personally find her an inspiration, but maybe that’s because I know her back story, something many people don’t bother to find out, they just see her  doing crazy postures in skimpy shorts. Go figure.

Back to my main point – does this affect you, if you are not already a yoga practitioner to WANT to try yoga or TO SCARED to try yoga because you thinks it’s just for skinny white girls wearing expensive sports clothing?

I can’t tell you the amount of times someone, once they find out I am a Yoga teacher say ‘oh I would like to do yoga but I’m so inflexible, I can’t even touch my toes’ and I reply ‘and that is exactly WHY you should start taking yoga classes. The benefits are waaaaay more than being flexible. And not all yogi’s look like the fitness models that the clothing brands use. We come in all shapes, sizes and colours and are all capable of different things with our bodies. If you want to start yoga, ask yourself this. Can you sit and breathe? Yep, just sit, in any position comfortable to you with your spine straight and breathe, inhale and exhale? Then my friend, you are doing YOGA. The rest is just a circus!

I would love to hear feedback – please comment below with how social media etc has affected your decision to start or not start taking yoga classes.

*I have chosen not to use graphics in this post apart from the feature image, which is a statue in the Museum of Modern Art in Saigon.

 

lotus, meditation, yoga, selfies, instagram, yoga body, fitness industry

Setting Intentions

setting intentions, mindfulness, yoga, resolutions, targets, acheivement

Ever been in a yoga class and the teacher asks you to ‘use this time to set an intention’ for the class?

I’m not a big fan of it as I think it puts people on the spot ‘oh shit, what can I set? stretching my forward folds a bit further, trying balance without wobble, wait no, they are all physical maybe I should try to connect with my breath or to turn my brain off and focus on the breathing, oh shit, we’ve moved on, I’m not even on all fours cat – cowing because I’ve spent so long thinking of my intention and I still haven’t got one – arrgggh, ok my intention is to get through the class in one piece!!!!’
And so it goes (or maybe that’s just how my monkey mind works!!)

 

prayers and wishes tree samadhi bali, intentions, yoga, meditation

 

But how about you set some intentions BEFORE you get to class, or maybe you are setting an intention that when you’ve finished reading this post you will actually SIGN UP FOR THAT CLASS…you see, intentions are a bit like resolutions, but you need to make them achievable, and to do this it helps if you think about what you really want to get from them. Then you can set them, stick to them, and feel a sense of achievement from them.

It really doesn’t matter what they are – just make them an achievable action. So you may want to eat more of a healthy diet (ah, HELLO noprochallenge) or exercise more, or see more of your friends, or see less of your friends and spend some more time alone, or be able to save up to go on a holiday/retreat/travel the world….

 

 

I truly believe that setting intentions can help you achieve your goals in life. Just don’t ask me to do it at the start of a class (ps we do not do this in Ashtanga – it’s opening prayer and then straight into it!)

I’m setting intentions to:

Go with the flow…let the universe decide!
In this time of transition in my life, where am I going in life next? try not to stress about it, and just see how things unfold….

Don’t dwell on the could woulda shoulda…it’s all about the present. Even if your are not feeling blissfully happy right now, nothing is permanent so don’t worry, take each moment as it comes and know that everything will pass.

Be happy with what you have – feeling contentment, but more importantly try to think positively on what you have RIGHT NOW and not what you don’t – of course this doesn’t mean give up your drive and motivation to make yourself better – but chill, you’re doing the best you can right now, it’s all part of the journey!

 

Shiva, meditation, intentions, India, Mysore, Chamundi Hill

 

Sometimes we need to set some intentions to help us through this crazy trip we call life!

 

Terrific Turmeric – not just for dyeing everything yellow

Turmeric, that stuff that makes rice and curries, fingers and dish cloths yellow.

If you didn’t already know this is one of nature’s best natural anti-inflammatory ‘drugs’ or, herbs that heal.

 

turmeric tea, health benefits, turmeric
photo courtesy of authoritynutrition.com

 

Turmeric can help fight diseases, from arthritis to cancer, yep it’s pretty damn amazing stuff.

Some of the benefits include:

Anti-inflammatory (so works like a ibuprofen)

Boosts your immune system (goodbye January blues colds and sniffles)

Lowers cholesterol (goodbye post-Christmas over indulgence)

Natural antiseptic (can be rubbed directly onto wounds)

Impressive no?

For the last couple of days I’ve been warding off a cold by drinking Turmeric Tea (which I usually drink to help with my knee injury recovery).

It’s so easy to make! –  whilst in India I took an Ayurvedic ‘Herbs that Heal’ course and the recipe they used, which I now use, is thus:

photo credit: theheartysoul.com

 

Measure out how many cups of water you are making into a saucepan

Add a thumb sized piece of FRESH TURMERIC (you can use powder but the taste is so much better with fresh, I bought my last batch from Wholefoods) 

Thumb sized piece of FRESH GINGER

Throw in a couple of black peppercorns (helps the turmeric absorb quicker) 

Boil that lot up

Once boiled, strain (through a tea strainer or sieve) into your drinking vessel of choice

Add some fresh lemon, sliced and juice

Add a teaspoon of honey if you like it sweeter

Drink

Feel good

 

Really, give it a try, it is wonderful and I only had that to drink yesterday, no pharmaceutical drugs and my cold was so much better after a couple of large glasses full!

 

 

#noprochallenge check in…yep, more pictures of vegetables

no processed food challenge

Readers!

How’s 2017 working out for you? And more importantly have you all joined me on the #noprochallenge and started to cut out the processed and pre-prepared foods from your diets?

This time of the year can be a mixed bag of emotions, on one hand you’re all ‘Yay the new me’ motivated and on the other you’re ‘Boo back to work blues’…..What you can do to help both those emotions is improve your diet by eating more natural, plant-based, non processed food.

 

fresh vegetables, no processed food challenge, healthy eating, claireyogagogo

 

Did you know that a healthy gut and digestive system can help improve your mood? Ah, yah, that’s right, scientist often refer to the stomach/gut as ‘the second brain’ meaning if your gut is healthy and happy then so are you – amazing right?

So, I implore you to try to give up the processed crap and go for an all natural, cooked from scratch approach with plenty of plant-based foods, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Add a little fish or organic meat if you feel you need to…

I said in my previous post that I would share some of the websites and resources I use to give me inspiration on this life of natural foods. I would like to share with you in this post two of the most inspirational women I have come across who have used to diet to help cure themselves.

Firstly, the wonderous (is that a word?) and crazy, sexy KRISS CARR, after being diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer she decided to change her lifestyle and diet, and her words:

I learned that a nutrient-dense, plant-passionate diet rules; the standard American diet destroys everything; stress sucks your life force; exercise is nonnegotiable (it’s great for your head, heart, cells and ass-ets); joy is utterly contagious (ahchoo!); and having fun must be taken very seriously.

Kris Carr, healthy eating, no processed food challenge

She has written 5 books on taking care of your body and mind, has a kick ass website (one that I aspire to) and is a true survival and optimistic story. Find out all about her on her website: http://kriscarr.com/

Next up on my people you should listen too (as if I wasn’t enough!) is ex Vogue and Ralph Lauren marketing manager, AIME VALPONE, she was diagnosed with a list as long as your arm of conditions, including adrenal fatigue, PCOS, Colitis and Lymes Disease, and again through changing her diet and the way she ate, CURED herself…..she is big on anti inflammatory diet foods (all hail Turmeric) and has a wonderful website and a beautiful book (which I bought for my Mum last year) she advocates a plant-based, gluten-free ‘clean’ diet

 

the healthy apple, healthy eating, eat clean, no processed food challenge

Find out about Amy here: http://thehealthyapple.com/

Please head over to both of these sites to read more about healthy living, lifestyle and dietary changes that you can make to make you feel (and look) A-MAZE-ING

You’re welcome!

As for me I’ve been busy cooking some luscious curries as usual, shepherdess pies and plenty of veggies to go in my buddha bowls but have been too busy cooking to take any snaps so will try to do that for some future posts.

My view so far this year is pretty sweet:

The No Pro Challenge – #noprochallenge

no to processed foods challenge 2017 eat clean, eat and buy local produce

Join me on the #noprochallenge – What the hell is the #noprochallenge I hear you ask?

A challenge to cut processed food from your diet. To eat more fresh foods and food you have prepared yourself.

Yep, to avoid all those hidden sugars and other nasty additives how about cutting out everything processed from your diet and eating a diet of natural foods?

So, how can this challenge make a positive impact on your life?

 

no to processed foods challenge 2017 eat clean, eat and buy local produce

 

 ‘processed food’ applies to any food that has been altered from its natural state in some way’ 

  • source: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/what-are-processed-foods.aspx

So try eating natural, where possible organic, food, locally sourced fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds, nuts, and if you eat meat and fish that’s also ok as long as it’s not a processed meat (sausages etc) – just nothing out of a jar or packet that has been ‘manufactured’.

The health benefits will speak for themselves in two weeks. You may lose some weight, especially if you ate a lot of processed food before the challenge. Your skin will be clearer, your energy higher and your mood will be lifted. You will also be contributing to improving environmental issues AND you should save some money to boot!

Be aware that it’s difficult to cut out all processed foods entirely, as this dietician points out:

Dietitian Sian Porter says: “Not all processed food is a bad choice. Some foods need processing to make them safe, such as milk, which needs to be pasteurized to remove harmful bacteria. Other foods need processing to make them suitable for use, such as pressing seeds to make oil.

There is a good guide to what is processed food and how cutting them out can help your health and wellbeing here: NHS article

 

 

There are many interesting pages on the internet that go into way more detail than this blog post,  I will be trying to post once a week on my challenge – sharing recipes and informative websites, books and resources. I adopted this approach to eating, whilst cutting most meat and dairy about two years ago – and have never felt better.

Let’s all go for it – make a positive change in your life, starting with the New Year, but not exclusively for the new year, this is a lifestyle change, a change in your dietary intake FOREVER, and that’s a mighty long time!

Let’s just recap on the benefits:

  • weight loss
  • more energy
  • better skin
  • better digestion
  • help save the environment
  • more money in your pocket for yoga leggings 😉

 

 

There is a great book by Megan Kimble (Megan’s website here) that tracks a year of her eating no processed foods – here is a snippet of an interview with Megan:

What advice can you give to people who want to limit their intake of processed foods?
The first and simplest piece of advice I have is to read the ingredient label of everything you buy. When you start looking at what’s in your food, you’ll start buying things that are better. The next step beyond that is to buy foods without ingredient labels — oatmeal, bananas, single food items that you can combine yourself at home. Even if you’re not much of a cook, you can prepare simple foods at home, like sandwiches, salads and pasta. If you prepare food yourself, you have so much more control over what you’re eating. You’ll have to spend more time prepping in the beginning, but once you start to find the habits and the things that work for you, it’ll start becoming part of a routine and not so time consuming at all.

GO ON, GIVE IT A TRY – and try to buy locally to support our local farmers and small business owners. Discover a love for cooking ‘from scratch’ – discover a love for good food. Share and support each other through this blog, Facebook and Instagram. Contact me if you have any questions.

JOIN ME – use this hashtag on your posts to show that you are taking part in the challenge and encourage others to join us! #nopro #noprochallenge

no to processed foods challenge 2017 eat clean, eat and buy local produce

Private Yoga Lessons – Special New Year Offer

private sessions cover, claireyogagogo private yoga lessons one to one sessions yoga ashtanga new year deal new year new you

Hi All,

New year is upon us, a time where we take stock and normally make plans to improve our health and happiness, I am offering a special New Year’s deal to entice you into taking care of your body and mind with yoga.

Want to start yoga but intimidated by the thought of group classes?

Interested in deepening your existing yoga practice?
Have group classes you want to attend but the timing doesn’t fit with your hectic work schedule? 
Have an injury that makes you feel vulnerable in group class?
 
Private (one-to-one) classes may be for you!

Eagle arms low lunge backbend, Mysore, India, private yoga classes, one to one sessions, ashtanga yoga

 

The special rate of  £99 for 3 sessions including a free healthy eating check up.

(Private sessions are normally £40 per hour)

So why should you choose private sessions? Well, with a one to one session you will have a tailor-made personal programme where we focus on the areas that YOU would like to work on. With my undivided attention you can benefit from constant alignment checking at corrections or adjustments and will get so much more from it than a group environment.

The session will be tailored to suit your needs, strength, flexibility, working with injuries, using yoga as a moving meditation to calm your stressful life, whatever you feel you need.

Another option available is to share your session with another, or small group (prices vary according to the size of the group). This is a great option for those who may lack the confidence or are unable to attend a group class, but will be comfortable in the presence of those they know well.

 

 

In addition to the class, as part of the New Year offer I will help you also on the path to a healthy nutritious diet. I worked on the detox programmes at the Yoga Retreat in Thailand and also follow a plant-based diet myself and I am keen to share some hints and tips with you on how to improve your diet.

 

 

Please use the form or email/facebook direct message to find out more details.

I’m so excited to bring the benefits of yoga and a healthy diet to you!